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Germans Have Second Thoughts About Berlin as Capital

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ASK Germans - East or West - where the capital of a united Germany should be and a majority of them would answer ``Berlin.'' But some West Germans and politicians warn that before the government pulls up stakes and moves from the 40-year-old provisional capital of Bonn to the former Prussian capital of Berlin, it should consider the downsides of such a move.

Two of these are the expense of moving the government and the negative symbolism associated with the former Prussian and Nazi capital.

The move would be a logistical nightmare. An estimated 30,000 government workers live in Bonn. Add foreign diplomats, journalists, lobbyists, political party headquarters personnel, and all their families, and the total grows to more than 100,000. Many of the moving costs would either be paid outright by the government or subsidized in some way.

Furthermore, there's the problem of where to put them in Berlin.

``Berlin has problems of its own right now,'' says J"urgen Endemann, Bonn's deputy mayor, pointing out that West Berlin has an extreme housing shortage.

Office space for the newly moved bureaucrats would also be hard to find. Some of the former East German government's buildings could be used by a new united German government, but still more would have to be constructed.

Moving the capital from Bonn to Berlin also involves symbolic costs. Some politicians worry that making Berlin the capital may raise fears among European neighbors about Germany becoming too big, too powerful.

``Berlin is the wrong signal,'' says a West German government official who specializes in German-German affairs. ``It is closer to the border with Poland than it is to the rest of Germany.''

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